Andrea Germanos Climate Change Environment

Humanity ‘Way Off Track’: WMO Says Atmospheric Carbon at Level Unseen in 3 Million Years

The new report has "a stark, scientific message for climate change negotiators at COP 26," said the head of the World Meteorological Organization.

By Andrea Germanos / Common Dreams

Carbon dioxide concentrations reached a new record high in 2020, with comparable levels not seen for roughly 3 million years, the United Nations weather agency said Monday.

The findings came in the latest edition of the World Meteorological Organization’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, released a week before COP 26—the U.N. climate summit—kicks off in Glasgow.

According to WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas, the report holds “a stark, scientific message for climate change negotiators” headed to the summit. 

Photo by Chris LeBoutillier. Used with permission through Unsplash license.

The bulletin said globally averaged levels of CO2, as well as two other potent greenhouse gases—methane and nitrous oxide—were all up from the previous year.

CO2 reached 413.2 parts per million (ppm) in 2020—149% of the pre-industrial level. The increase from 2019 levels came despite pandemic-triggered lockdowns triggering an approximately 5.6% drop in fossil fuel CO2.

Methane stood at 262% and nitrous oxide at 123% of pre-industrial levels, the report said.

“At the current rate of increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, we will see a temperature increase by the end of this century far in excess of the Paris Agreement targets of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,” he said in a statement, warning, “We are way off track.”

“The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere breached the milestone of 400 parts per million in 2015. And just five years later, it exceeded 413 ppm,” Taalas added. “This is more than just a chemical formula and figures on a graph. It has major negative repercussions for our daily lives and well-being, for the state of our planet, and for the future of our children and grandchildren.”

“Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for centuries and in the ocean for even longer,” said Taalas. “The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3°C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now.”

The report also warned that land and oceans’ ability to continue serving as carbon sinks, sucking up about half of CO2 emissions, could be negatively affected by climate crisis-related changes such as wildfires.

Urging countries to turn “commitment into action,” Taalas said, “There is no time to lose.”

Dave Reay, a professor at the University of Edinburgh and director of the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute, also tied the bulletin’s findings to the upcoming U.N climate summit.

“The true success, or failure, of COP 26 will be written in our skies in the form of greenhouse gas concentrations,” he said in a statement.  “This new report from the WMO provides a brutally frank assessment of what’s been written there to date.”

“So far,” he said, “it’s an epic fail.”

“Will this 26th COP find success where the previous 25 have fallen short?” Reay asked. “Our atmosphere will bear witness.”

Andrea Germanos
Andrea Germanos

Andrea Germanos is a senior editor and staff writer at Common Dreams.


  1. Sure, but:

    1. No one is willing to make the sacrifices required for real solutions: living a lot more simply & naturally with a lot fewer people.

    2. Global warming/climate change isn’t a root cause of anything; it’s a mere symptom of overpopulation combined with wrong living, problems that began thousands of years ago.

    3. As usual, the scientists here grossly understate how bad the problems is. We’ve already heated up our atmosphere over 1 degree. Recent estimates if humans continue emitting greenhouse gases at the current rate are at least 3-4 degrees by the end of the century.

  2. The US Government has been sitting on free clean energy devices since the 1920, with Thomas Moray developing one of the first machines. Then the oil magnates shut him down and stole his device and allegedly broke it claiming the Russians did it. Sound Familiar?

    1. Changing technologies won’t solve anything. There’s no such thing as “clean energy” unless you’re talking about the energy animals get from eating or that plants get from the sun. See the movie Planet of the Humans and/or read the book Deep Green Lies. The fact is that petroleum provides much better energy than anything else if you want to live industrially. It’s industrial living that’s the problem, not which Earth-destroying technologies we use, because they’re all destructive.

      Humans can’t have their cake and eat it too, and it’s way past time they grow up, acknowledge that, and start living accordingly. Everything comes from something, for everything there’s an equal and opposite reaction, karma, etc. If humans want to stop wrecking the planet and killing everything on it, they need to greatly lower their population and they need to live a lot more simply & naturally. Machines, including the one you mentioned, are the problem, not a solution. The needed changes will take hundreds to thousands of years to accomplish — we didn’t get into this mess overnight, and we’re not getting out of it overnight — but they’ll never happen if we don’t start talking honestly and seriously about what needs to be done instead of fantasizing that we can maintain our gross overpopulation and totally unnatural lifestyles without harming anything.

  3. Wow! 3 million years! Imagine that! Because that’s just what this fear-mongering Science wants the hoi polloi to do, so our benevolent billionaires and ruling class foundations and fronts sponsoring the bought and paid for experts of climate catastrophism can roll out their plans for wayward humanity at their exclusive, domineering summits such as Globo-COP26.

    Like getting rid of a lot of the riffraff held responsible for allegedly overpopulating and polluting their planet by these neo-Malthusian eugenicists, rather than facing up to their own predatory practices, conveniently carrying them on under cover and cons of carbon credit schemes and UN Agenda 21/2030 for a future world order of absolute austerity where those left behind after the culling of disposable labor and livestock “will own nothing and be happy” (according to the criminal gang that gathers at Davos).

    What a bunch of hokum this apocalyptic religion of pseudo-science is, concocted from indeed nothing more than “formula and figures on a graph” (Taalas), or as Twain put it, “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Listening to its missionaries and true believers (the end is nigh!…10 years, 5 years, 1 year, now!…uh, let us revise that) is virtually indistinguishable from being assaulted by televangelists filling the flock with lurid tales of gods visiting vengeance upon sinful humanity, in this case guilty of anthropogenic climate change.

    Problem-Reaction-Solution. They (our masters and their high priests of scientism) devise the problems (this one roughly picking up where the Nazis – and before them Anglo-American ubermenschen – left off) – we (useless eaters) react in a suitably reactionary manner (the sky is falling, we’re doomed, who will save us?!) – so they can then supply the solution (or final solution). Keep up the PR until the Big Lie becomes the Truth, or at least the ‘consensus’ that pulls all of us along to our real doom, delivered by the same gods who have always preyed upon us for our own good*.

    “The welfare of humanity has always been the alibi of tyrants.” (Albert Camus)

    1. To be clear, this reply is for the other readers here, not niko. I see no point in engaging with someone so ignorant about the natural world and with such disdain for it.

      Denying the REALITIES of global warming/climate change and gross human overpopulation don’t make them any less real. Niko offers no facts or evidence, just a rant based on some goofball leftist idea that these are conspiracy theories for the purpose of getting people to do things to help the rich become even richer. That’s about as far from reality as it gets. Here are some facts about both realities:

      1. There are so many people on the planet that between them, their agriculture, and their infrastructure (the latter two being unnatural and therefore part of the problem), humans now occupy most of the terrestrial (dry) land on Earth. The remainder that humans don’t occupy is mostly “rocks and ice,” which are ecosystems so harsh that only the most primordial forms of life can live there, if any can live there at all. It should be obvious to any 10-year-old that taking over half the terrestrial land on Earth for just one species is far too much, you don’t need to know wildlife biology or ecology to understand this. Additionally, extinctions track almost exactly with human population growth since 1800. These facts alone tell any sane, moral, and ethical person that there are far too many of us.

      To be clear, there isn’t any one type and there aren’t multiple types of humans responsible for overpopulation; it’s everyone. The entire Earth is grossly overpopulated with humans, with humans even being in places where they could not get to naturally and do harm just by being there, like Antarctica. Anyone who has more than 2 kids is the problem, and that includes rich white people. In fact, rich people overpopulating is even worse than poor people or regular people doing so, because rich people consume more, so that each one of them causes more harm than people who are not rich.

      2. Global warming was predicted from science experiments as early as 1856. See Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, and humans have emitted massive unnatural amounts of these gases since they started living industrially by burning fossil fuels. Therefore, humans are unnaturally heating our atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. Again, this is something that any 10-year-old can understand.

      3. Humans have caused and are causing not only global warming/climate change, but the Sixth Great Extinction, ocean acidification, destruction of entire ecosystems (that’s why some of the Middle East is now a desert when it used to be a forest), and massive unnatural pollution of every bit of the planet. These things are not “apocalyptic religion of pseudo-science,” they unfortunately are the harsh reality that the planet and everyone on it faces because of humans, and by “everyone” I mean all life on Earth, not just humans.

      If you’re blinded by your ideology, you can’t see reality. To paraphrase Upton Sinclair, if you love your lifestyle and that lifestyle depends on destroying the planet, it will be impossible to convince you that your lifestyle is destructive. That’s where people like niko are. Probably because I don’t visit right wing websites and have few right wing friends, I mostly get this kind of thing from anti-environmental leftists, but anyone is subject to this wrongful and erroneous thinking if you don’t put reality before your ideologies.

      1. Since you didn’t write your reply to me for me (though it does illustrate many of the points I made), I’ll just briefly butt in to mention your own diatribe against humans, let alone little ole me, could use a bit more basis in reality, rather than reliance on the unproven if not falsified Malthusianism of population overshoot and manufactured consensus science of global warming, rebranded climate change.

        Perhaps instead of approaching ecological matters from right-left divide-and-rule ruses, further examination of evidence might be helpful; including that of fraud from the consensus scientists paid, a la Sinclair, to rig mathematical models to produce desired conclusions, as well as censor and suppress counter-evidence to their claims (all in the spirit of science, of course).

        But if you want to entrust yourself to the very interests of capitalogenic despoliation of the earth to save us from ourselves and remove themselves from culpability with CO2 sleight of hand, have at it. I just hope there’s not so many like yourself that the rest of us will be pulled down into the Sixth Great Extinction, or whatever, the “masters of mankind” (Adam Smith) have planned for us.

    1. Do you ever ask the same of or investigate the sources, especially funding sources , of ‘independent’ press outlets like Common Dreams, or the WMO upon which they rely for this ‘report’ (another of the endless examples of ‘science’ now conducted through press releases)? The latter is a specialized agency of the UN, all but completely captured by transnational capital (TNC), with headquarters on the massive campus grounds of Geneva, Switzerland, which in contrast to the UN’s public facade in NY, is a more privately controlled center for TNC’s global governance, from the WTO to WHO.

      As indicated in passing in my comments above, I do think there is severe and threatening ecological destruction in relation to numerous planetary conditions brought on by the
      “predatory practices” of industrial capitalism. And I think this is in no small part why global capitalist cartels have long been out to engineer perceptions and campaigns, with most environmental figures, ‘movements’ and NGOs – from Earth Day to Greenpeace, Greta Thunberg to Extinction Rebellion, Naomi Klein to – now under the control of philanthrocapitalism, and pushing narratives and solutions reducing people’s options to the CO2 global warming and overpopulation schemes. Rather than addressing the class-based organization of society, especially.

      As for some of sources to which I’ve turned, for starters I’d recommend The Corbett Report. A necessary caveat these days: that I’m making this recommendation doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with Corbett, particularly his politics, in all cases; only that people’s politics don’t necessarily determine their research and evidence, let alone their conclusions (as if whether one is on the (manufactured) right, left, or whatever identity makes one right or wrong when it comes to observing facts, for instance). I’m mainly recommending him because he consistently provides his audience with original sources (more may be found in the comment sections, too). So you might simply begin there with a search of “climate change” and take it from there. (You may also gain some idea of the systematic censorship of ‘climate denialism’ – revealing in itself of the control of this narrative by ruling class power – by recognizing how Google’s YouTube has deleted videos in this subject (just like ‘misinformation’ from anti-vaxxers and related ‘domestic terrorists’). Here are notes on two installments from such a search, for example:

      Climate Myths Debunked
      Corbett • 12/10/2013

      Myth #1. The earth is warming!

      On what time scale? 16 years? 2000 years? 10000 years? 420000 years? 65 million years? (Answer: None of the above)

      Myth #2. This year was the hottest year ever!

      Was that before or after NASA and the NOAA altered the temperature record to make recent years warmer?

      Myth #3. 97% of scientists agree on global warming!

      You mean 97% of 77 scientists in an unscientific online poll?

      Myth #4. Sea levels are rising!

      Yes…at a rate of 7 inches per century.

      Myth #5. Hurricanes are increasing!

      US landfalling hurricanes are at their lowest intensity in a century. (Bonus fact: Accumulated Cyclone Energy is at a 30 year low!)

      Myth #6. But…polar bears!

      The polar bear population has quintupled in six decades and the USGS admits their numbers are near “historic highs.”

      Myth #7. Climategate was hype and it’s been debunked.

      The UK Information Commissioner found the climategate scientists guilty of breaking the law by hiding data from the public.

      Myth #8. Models project a temperature increase of over 2 degrees in this century.

      And these same models overestimated warming over the past 15 years by 400%.

      Myth #9. Weather is not climate.

      Actually, yes. And this is true when it’s hot outside, too.

      Myth #10. Climate denial is a well-funded conspiracy.

      Actually, the reverse. The global warming industry has generated over $140 billion in government grants, a $315 billion carbon market and is expected to generate 10s of trillions more in government-sponsored investment in the coming decades.

      Climate Change is Unfalsifiable Woo-Woo Pseudoscience
      Corbett • 12/08/2015

      Karl Popper famously said, “A theory that explains everything explains nothing.” So what do you make of the theory that catastrophic manmade CO2-driven “climate change” can account for harsher winters and lighter winters, more snow and less snow, droughts and floods, more hurricanes and less hurricanes, more rain and less rain, more malaria and less malaria, saltier seas and less salty seas, Antarctica ice melting and Antarctic ice gaining and dozens of other contradictions? Popper gave a name to “theories” like this: pseudoscience.

      Climate change makes for shorter winters

      Climate change makes for harsher winters

      Climate change means less snow

      Climate change means more snow

      Climate change causes droughts in California

      Climate change causes floods in Texas and Oklahoma

      Climate change makes wet places wetter and dry places drier…

      …except when it makes wet places dryer…

      …and dry places wetter

      Climate change causes more hurricanes

      Climate change causes less hurricanes

      Climate change causes more rain (but less water)

      Climate change causes less rain

      Climate change decreases the spread of malaria

      Climate change increases the spread of malaria

      Climate change makes San Francisco foggier

      Climate change makes San Francisco less foggy

      Climate change causes duller autumn leaves

      Climate changes causes more colourful autumn leaves

      Climate change makes for less salty seas

      Climate change makes for saltier seas

      Climate change causes Antarctica to lose land ice

      Climate change causes Antarctica to gain land ice

      Climate change makes the earth hotter…

      …unless the earth isn’t getting hotter…

      …in which case climate change can explain that, too.

    2. Careful what you ask for Dawn, you might get it. (I don’t think I need to comment on niko’s reply, it speaks for itself.)

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